The lights blew out at 9 pm on Monday eve. Up to this point we were watching coverage on TV and following some friends on the Internet who were filming the occurrences directly east of us on the East River. The scenes were scary.
We awoke to a quiet sunny world on Tuesday morning, but the damage was done. 4 out of the 6 garages in our development had been flooded; probably hundreds of cars were destroyed. There was a warning before the last storm to get the cars out, but no message this go around. I wonder how that will affect the new company that just took over.
We are in the western most garage and were dry. We count ourselves extremely lucky. We remembered the scene after last year’s storm when trees were down everywhere – this year there were less trees down, but far more damage from floating cars because the waters came up over the east side embankment and met the street for almost 3 city blocks.
Electric was out downtown. We started heading uptown by foot to see what was happening, some friends mentioned some electric was on above 34th street as you go west. We found a McDonald’s for lunch, long lines everywhere, even for the bathroom. My son is getting smarter as he gets older; he spotted the front of the bathroom line as an opening for a shorter line for food. He is sharp!
We walked home amongst the throngs of NY residents all looking for information and wireless phone coverage. Not a lot of information was available yet.
We cooked with gas that evening; I had a hugely well stocked fridge, so we were not worried about food. I also had an unopened pack of flashlights from Costco; they were purchased right after the blackout of 2003! The batteries had expired years earlier per their date, but most of them still worked.
My son switched from electronics to board games far more easily than I would have anticipated, but then again I am proud of every move he makes!
I hooked up my land line phone (only corded would work) and began to check in. My brother has a large generator so his house was safe, my parents are there as well. I started calling friends to see what stores were open and found out Bergen County was powerless, but Riverdale in the Bronx was not. We had not been able to reach my in-laws since that morning so I tried them again, they had returned to their small Brooklyn apartment as there was power on. No one on Staten Island had electric yet. It was at that point that I realized my first round of advice is to never have both cellphones on, use 1 at a time to double the amount of air time you have on your batteries. Both my in-laws phones died at the same time until they could recharge in Brooklyn, and we were making that same error ourselves in our house. Of course I had a fully charged laptop in reserve that I could steal power from if need be. My son and his iPod taught me that one!
I told my spouse we would head to Target Wednesday morning but woke up and realized we didn’t need anything and should head to Brooklyn for his parents electric. I emptied the refrigerator in some bags, grabbed the laundry (heat/hot water was supposed to be out for an additional week) and headed across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Traffic was fine in our direction, and after a spat in the car we got gas before we parked the car. Remember that, get gas first, ask questions later. My father-in-law had started to scout out open gas stations, and we were on line for 10 minutes and were able to fill up. We were lucky to have done it so early in this crisis.
We got a spot right across the street from my in-laws apartment building and thankfully my spouse said to move the car back from under the branches of the tree we were under. This is the new awareness one needs.
We settled in and started charging our myriad of devices. I had a NetZero hotspot that I wrote about previously that got us onto the Internet. We were both working during our time as refugees! My spouse works in the financial district and day by day we learned his work was closed as was all of the NYC schools. We were living one day to the next without news about what the next day would bring. This was fine.
Did I mention that my mother-in-law took our laundry and not only washed our clothes, she folded everything? Wow, it’s been 35 years since anyone did that for me! Luckily we grabbed the laundry, when we left Manhattan we had no idea of the time frame that we would be away from home. We lived out of these laundry bags for the next several days.
My son was happy with his electronics, we fought with him to read some of his school books, after all we don’t want to raise no dummy! My spouse and I stayed on the Internet, him for work, me for Facebook, as a way to fight the boredom.
Then we saw the pictures. Streets on Staten Island that we used to drive down to return home from the in-laws house. That won’t be happening for a long time. Devastation in many places. Power out for millions. We surely were counting our blessings, everyone we knew was fine. My 1 Brooklyn cousin was safe but she did lose everything from the flood.
We hit the 99 cent stores on Friday as entertainment for my son. My eye was on what groceries were being delivered or not to the local stores. After all, tunnels were closed and power was out, where was the food coming in from, and how? These were the questions on my mind. After reading and viewing many Zombie stories, I have a heightened sense of survivalism.
By Friday eve, word was coming through Facebook that my building had power again. We planned our return.
Saturday morning I took my spouse to the supermarket and we loaded up. I couldn’t imagine the stores below 42nd street would have food. I am a bit of a hoarder. Lethal combo. We also had the food we saved in my in-laws fridge, lord knows where I would be without my probiotics!
Saturday there was no traffic heading into Manhattan. We unpacked and tried to return to some semblance of normality. We took to the streets to find a vibrant Manhattan getting back on its feet. Many stores were open for business, except for the smallest ones. My supermarket on 14th Street had gotten its deliveries and was doing a booming business. People were all over the streets. It seems we bounce back rather quickly in NY.
And as I do 8 loads of laundry I see my neighbors starting to trickle back in. Some stayed at friends uptown, some stayed at hotels. I am so cheap I would never have thought of going to a hotel! Luckily we had the in-laws!
We were lucky. All of us. Many people lost power, but so many more could have. Manhattan was fine above 42nd Street; hotels uptown were filled to capacity. My brother and sister in-laws homes were restored within 1 day. Think about it, what if a larger part of the Northeast were affected? If all 5 boroughs were without power. We need to change our way of thinking and prepare better for any crisis down the road, which is what I take away from this experience.
And don’t let your ego say rebuilding along the shore is a great idea because you won’t let this event deter you, because you are resilient, because we are not going to let a little water stop us. These types of events will occur again, build where you will be safe, and use building materials that won’t fold from these types of wind. Every year we all watch the various alphabet of Hurricanes that form in the mid-Atlantic and head to the shores of America, wondering which one will touch land, and how strong the winds will be. We all live on the turn of a roulette wheel, and this time we lost big. We need to think about how to protect ourselves next time, and I do feel most of the power companies were caught with their pants down, they should be better protected from weather. Just my opinion.
Politically everyone shone, except for Bloomberg and his Marathon mess. Governor Christie, who I am not a fan of, seems to be greatly in charge. Governor Cuomo has not been as vocal as our Jersey neighbor, but I like his stance regarding getting tough with the electric companies. They are the big losers. I just received notice that they turned on power where there were salt water damaged wires. They were told not to, ignored warnings, and then caused explosions further delaying the repairs in those areas. They are not doing a good enough job. Obama has been a big help, as has Charles Schumer, but I cannot stand to look at Senator Schumer who craves the camera little too much for my tastes!
I am grateful that everyone I know is safe. I feel awful for those who lost so much. It will be much easier to decide what to donate this year from all the blog extras I have, all of it will go, we already have more than we need. Stay safe everyone and prepare for the next time!